Thursday, May 19, 2016

Downtown El Paso with the Fujifilm X100S

It's been a whirlwind last couple of weeks, making the big move from Korea to El Paso, Texas. Along the way I made a pit stop in Palm Springs, California for a little rest and recreation ( followed by another flight, this time up to Seattle/Tacoma, to visit friends and load up the UHaul for the long drive which finally led me to my ultimate destination, my new home town, El Paso!

I've been a bit of a homebody since arriving in El Paso last week. The move and the drive really took the wind out of my sails, more accurately, my back was hurting in a bad way. I have been taking it easy, not shooting too many photos, just a couple of videos for my gun-related YouTube Channel BUT yesterday, I finally determined to get out of the house and explore downtown El Paso for the first time and I brought along my Fujifilm X100S to see what I might be able to capture on my first venture into the city.

This is my second Fujifilm X100S ( I sold the first one because after having a good initial first impression, I found that I didn't like it as much as I thought I would, but I really WANTED to like it, and well, in the end I sold it and then, several months later, bought another. That's a crazy camera guy for you.

So, I brought along my "new" Fujifilm X100S and it didn't disappoint, neither did downtown El Paso for that matter.

Downtown El Paso is quite a unique downtown area for a metropolis such as El Paso. It's historic and quaint and features several distinct, yet small areas of interest. The arts district for example, is really just a one square block area which includes the Plaza Theater, Convention Center and Museum of Art. One block to the immediate East you'll find the San Jacinto Plaza, one block to the North East you're in Pride Square and if you venture two blocks South, you'll find yourself in the clothing, shoes and pawn shop district known as "El Centro". The entire downtown area is pock-marked with a variety of bars and restaurants. For my first trip to the city center I stopped at two locales, the first a sort of pizza and beer joint with lots of TV's called "Sparrow's Spirits and Pies". They had a nice beer selection, my taste buds were pleased to see Franziskaner Hefeweisen beed in a bottle on the menu, which I accompanied with a half-order of Mac and Cheese. It was just ok. As I looked around the bar I noticed it was outfitted with cheap looking tables and chairs, the kind that you might find in a hole-in-the-wall taco shop or similar. I am fully aware that tables and chairs for restaurants can be extremely pricey but for the location this place sits in downtown, I would expect a little nicer decor. It just makes the place look like the kind of bar where you might find a $1 dollar all you can drink beer night.

I followed that up with dinner at Oishii, a new and promising Asian-Fusion-Sushi restaurant. The best thing about this place is the ambiance. If you're looking for a classy joint to take a date for a nice bottle of wine and interesting dishes, I recommend it highly. But if you're looking for a well-rounded sushi spot, Oishii falls short. The sushi menu is limited, and as an example, the sushi chef didn't even have ANY bottles of soy sauce behind the sushi bar. I, for one, enjoy a plate of edamame when I go out for sushi, interestingly, they don't have edamame on the menu, nor was the sushi chef able to procure any for me from the kitchen, yet, when my entree came out (Coconut Crusted Chilean Seabass $35) there on the plate, was a stack of edamame. 

I wandered around about a 5 square block area during the late afternoon and woke up early the next morning for a few sunrise shots down by the train station. Overall, I got an excellent impression of downtown El Paso. I am very much looking forward to attending some minor league baseball games at Southwest University Park where the El Paso Chihuahuas play and next week I'll be attending the Neon Desert Music Festival with some old army friends from Korea!

I'll also be headed back to downtown many times in the future, it's a great place for street photography. The architecture is nostalgic, turn of the century (1900's) and is sparsely populated compared to downtown areas of other major cities. It's great to be here and it feels really good to finally have a hometown where I can grow some roots.

Historic Plaza Theater

El Paso Museum of Art

View looking West at the Plaza Building

Anson Mills Building

San Jacinto Square

San Antonio Street "El Centro"

El Paso Convention Center

El Paso Convention Center

Dome Bar at El Camino Real Hotel

Nice to see another photographer out doing his thing!

Camino Real Hoteal

Bicycle Rentals

Anson Mills Building

Oishii Restaurant at the Plaza Theater

San Jacinto Plaza

Ping Pong tables at San Jacinto Plaza, now that's unique!

Sunrise at the old El Paso Train Depot

View of the Franklin Mountains looking North from downtown El Paso

Obligatory view of downtown looking South from Rim Road.

It was a beautiful morning. Now that I am OFFICIALLY a resident, I can finally call myself a proud Texan and El Pasoan?

Good morning El Paso!